Leo Lambert announces he will step down as Elon president, search for successor begins

by Alex Hager

Elon University president Leo Lambert announced that he will be stepping down from his position on January 1, 2018 in an email to the Elon community on Monday morning. Lambert has been president since January 1999.

Lambert originally made his announcement in a meeting with the Elon board of trustees on Feb. 10.  He plans to stay in his position until a successor is hired and then transition into a role as president emeritus and professor following a sabbatical year.

Lambert has had profound impact on the university and its community, as the campus has experienced significant growth and change in terms of facilities, student body size, academic mission, and national reputation.

The exterior of Lambert’s office in Powell Hall.

Renowned for his personable nature, Lambert was as much a figurehead of Elon as he was its strategic leader. Members of the Elon community reacted to the news Monday morning, sharing memories of interactions and reflections of his legacy on social media.

“My first day of class at Elon as a freshman I was so lost,” said Jennie Hook, a 2016 Elon alumna, in a tweet. “President Lambert saw I was stressed and walked me to my first class! I will never forget that day. He would always give you a few minutes of his time to chat, no matter how busy he was. Love Leo!”

Others shared Hook’s sentiment, as many students recalled casual interactions with Lambert during his time as president.

“I sat next to [Lambert] and his wife during dinners,” said junior Courtney Campbell, who shared time with Lambert during a Winter Term trip to Spain and Portugal this January. “He was friendly and we had good conversations about the university.”

After a presidential tenure that oversaw many significant changes to the school, the search for a qualified successor is underway. In a video message attached to the announcement email, Lambert spoke on the role of the next president and their involvement in the “Elon Leads” strategic fundraising campaign, which will begin in 2018.

“In recruiting a new president at this time,” said Lambert, “we can ensure continuity of leadership for these key initiatives, as well as anticipate the creation and implementation of the university’s next strategic plan. This will allow Elon to continue to make progress on many fronts.”

The university has announced plans to find a new president, outlining the committee that will perform the search.

While Elon’s administration carries out their search process, students have acknowledged that Lambert’s presidency will be a tough act to follow. Junior Ben Driscoll said that the next president will need to be “well rounded with students, not just a leader within the administration.”

Following a farewell speech by Lambert on Tuesday morning, trustee Wes Elingburg, who will lead the presidential search committee, announced the rollout of a website tracking the search’s progress.


New signposts going up around residential neighborhoods

You may have noticed three unexplained brick columns being built along sidewalks in a few spots on campus. According to Brad Moore, university architect and director of planning, design and construction management, they are for new signage denoting Elon’s various residential neighborhoods.

Moore said that they are part of a larger “signage and wayfinding master plan” that is being implemented across campus. That master plan is also responsible for the new maroon signage in front of many residential and academic buildings that was debuted in the fall.

The plan currently includes three new brick signposts, two in the Global Neighborhood and one between the Danieley and Colonnades neighborhoods. Moore indicated that more of the signs could be added “as needed.”

Red dots in the image above indicate the locations of the new signs.

Harvard psychologist and TED Talk lecturer Daniel Gilbert to speak at Spring Convocation

by Alex Hager

Elon University has announced that Daniel Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and bestselling author, will serve as the Spring Convocation speaker. Gilbert is known for his TED Talk “The Science of Happiness” and his award-winning book “Stumbling on Happiness”.Daniel_Todd_Gilbert.jpg

Gilbert’s TED Talk is one of the 15 most viewed of all time, and his book spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list.

Gilbert might be best known for his appearances in television commercials for Prudential Financial, in which he talked with Americans about saving and financial planning. In addition, he has contributed to Time, The New York Times, and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

“This is a great example of Elon’s priority on bringing world leaders and scholars to campus,giving students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to learn from people who have challenging and inspiring ideas,” said Dan Anderson, vice president of university communications.

Anderson emphasized Gilbert’s success as a speaker and author, adding that he may be the “best known psychologist in the world today.”
Spring Convocation will be held on March 30, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. in Alumni Gym. Tickets for the event will be available on March 9 for $13 or free to anyone with an Elon ID.

Former Elon men’s soccer coach Chris Little talks about future, legacy

After six years with the Elon men’s soccer program, including three years as head coach, Chris Little is leaving his position to take a job with the Seattle Sounders Academy.

Little was at the helm of the program during the Phoenix’ transition to the Colonial Athletic Association. During his time as head coach, the team won a CAA regular season championship, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and went 30-18-9.

“We have a mantra with the players, and we talk about having an opportunity to leave the jersey in a better place every year,” said Little. “I look back and ask, ‘Was I able to fulfill that in my role as a coach?’ We’ve won five championships in the last seven years, and four NCAA tournament [appearances]. I look at the team now and it’s an incredibly talented team that’s very young and is set up and destined for success in the next couple of years. I feel as though I can hold my head up and say, ‘I’ve given it my best shot and I’m leaving it in a better place.'”

Little’s next job will take him to Seattle, where he will serve as director of coaching for the Seattle Sounders developmental academy. The Sounders are the reigning champions of Major League Soccer.

“There was a lot of things that contributed to the decision, but the core of the decision is a family one,” said Little. “After deliberating with my wife, weighing everything, we thought it would be a really good opportunity for our family.”

Little added that the decision was made “with a heavy heart.”

Little departure marks the second time in a row that an Elon head coach has left for an MLS academy job. Darren Powell left Elon in 2013 to lead the academy for Orlando City SC.

Watch the full interview with Little below.

Local reporting and beats: ABNW chapter two

By Alex Hager

Although they often don’t shine as much as glamorous feature reporting, local reporting and beat reporting are integral parts of journalism. On-the-ground community reporting is responsible for some of the best storytelling in all of journalism. Reporters who have their finger on the pulse of a community can tell incredible tales about the people and phenomena that define a town or a group of people.

The beginning of this chapter professes the value of “shoe-leather” journalism, the practice of getting out from behind a desk or computer and getting your feet on the ground to report. By physically immersing himself in a community, a writer can learn every aspect of a story, and thus, tell that story better.

Beat reporting is like this, in a way. A beat reporter has the responsibility and privilege of learning a topic inside and out, front and back. A beat writer is an expert, an ultimate authority on their subject. Because of their ability to know the background of their beat, their stories turn in to deep anecdotes and well-informed profiles of people and events, because the author already has a background knowledge that allows them to go above and beyond the basics each time they write a story.screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-11-59-07-pm

The first section of this chapter also debates the balance between informative fact and illustrative (and sometimes lightly eccentric) storytelling. One theory of journalistic ethics suggests that the reporter subtract himself from the community to eliminate emotion and conflicts of interest, leaving him to report only on the facts he obtains. A second school of thought, though, argues that some of the best reporting comes from writers who are practically embedded in a community, and can learn every single facet of a story and then tell that story with captivating flourish. The book, however, suggests that a balance can be struck between the two, the result being an ethical, fact-fueled reporter who can also entertain and inspire.

Although the emergence of online news has, to some degree, nationalized audiences and pulled focus away from local reporting, publications with the money, resources, and audience to do so are still putting out amazing local and beat reporting to this day. Below are some recent examples.

Although big city papers with national coverage see massive circulation numbers and have
This Stamford Advocate profile on a local Muslim 1024x1024woman is a great example of putting a local spin on a national storyline. Liz Skalka, the reporter who wrote the article, weaves a story of a single woman’s life to help contextualize themes of a larger, difficult-to-grasp phenomenon. By showing how the woman interacts with the Stamford community, Skalka not only describes a person, but a member of the community.
This next story is exemplary of excellent sports beat writing. This Chicago Tribune article chronicles the night the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Obviously, it was a monumental win. However, only a writer with decades of experience covering the team, like Paul Sullivan, can fully capture the emotion and gravity of the ct-cubs-indians-world-series-game7-photos-101victory in a way relatable to the team’s lifelong fans. The win meant so much for the team and the city of Chicago,and only a true expert on the situation would have the power to contextualize that fully. A talented sportswriter can write an equally captivating story about the iconic, like this Cubs win, or the mundane, like a meaningless loss in the middle of a long season. But that’s what makes beat writers so special. They have the background knowledge to fully explain exciting storylines, and the intimate awareness of situations to turn humdrum events into exciting stories.

While sportswriting serves to deepen a reader’s understanding of the familiar, some beat writers use their talents to shed light on the unfamiliar. Tim Arango, the New York Times’ Baghdad Bureau Chief, has spent years covering the Middle East and its new, old, and ongoing conflicts. In this captivating story of fleeing strife, Arango shows the humans
caught up in a war that many Americans might not think about on a daily basis. Arango 22fleemosul3-master675explains the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the situation in a factual manner, but then goes on to pepper in human storylines. Only someone with intimate knowledge
of the issues and the region would know who and to look for in terms of details, and then how to tell such a story in a way that accurately
portrays the depth of the situation’s struggle.

Colleges and universities across the nation respond to executive order restricting immigration

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from some predominantly Muslim countries, reactions have poured out from colleges and universities across the United States. Protests and social media movements have sprung up on campuses, but many schools have issued official responses from the administration.

Institutions of higher education have been among the most active in responding to the executive order at an organizational level. Many colleges and universities have explained how the order conflicts with their academic missions and ideologies, but the financial impact could also be significant. One estimate suggests that U.S. colleges could lose $700 million as a result of the restrictions. Because of these factors, reactions have been overwhelmingly critical of the order, with many referencing the impact travel bans may have on students.

Elon University President Leo Lambert issued his own statement on the matter in an email to students and faculty. In the email, Lambert didn’t directly criticize the order, instead saying that the University is “monitoring [the] unfolding situation very carefully.”

Like many universities’ statements, Lambert’s eschewed a political stance and instead chose to deal with the individuals affected by the order and how the University is planning to help those who may have their educational plans impacted.

“Elon’s Global Education Center staff members are working individually with international students and scholars to offer counsel, guidance and support,” said Lambert. “In order to safeguard privacy, we will make no statements about individuals who might potentially be affected by the Executive Order.”

Earlier this week, Lambert traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with North Carolina lawmakers regarding the effects of the order.

Duke University issued a response similar to Elon’s. In a statement by University President Richard Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth, the restrictions on immigration were called “confusing and disturbing.”

“We are deeply concerned about the well-being of students, faculty and staff who may be impacted by the policies that have now been put in place,” reads Duke’s statement, “and will join with the rest of higher education to bring these concerns to the attention of policymakers and the public.”

Larger public universities, too, shared many of these sentiments. The University of California system released a short statement on behalf of its President and ten Chancellors calling the executive order “contrary to the values we hold dear as leaders.”

The American Association of Universities (AAU), a nonprofit coalition that includes 60 research universities nationally, also released a statement on the restrictions, assuming a critical tone and calling for change. The statement, authored by AAU President Mary Sue Coleman, said that the order is “already causing damage” and “should end as quickly as possible.”

“We also urge the Administration, as soon as possible, to make clear to the world that the United States continues to welcome the most talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship at our universities,” said Coleman. “It is vital to our economy and the national interest that we continue to attract the best students, scientists, engineers, and scholars.”



Deadline reporting: ABNW chapter one

by Alex Hager

Writing on deadline can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to reduce the quality of your work. In this first chapter of America’s Best Newspaper Writing, experienced reporters explained how to make the most out of a story during a time crunch.

Although the news cycle is fully and unchangeably 24/7, there is still a need for deadlines and an ability to write on them. It’s (relatively) easy to gather and disseminate information for a story on a deadline, but the biggest struggle can often be telling that story interestingly, creatively, and captivatingly.

notebook2-1The best way to help yourself write in a time crunch is to prepare as much as possible before hand. Pre-writing or even just pre-researching can help give a story a skeleton before it’s filled in with details, facts, information, or narrative storytelling. This saves time and energy as a reporter learns details of an unfolding story.

Another important skill needed to write on a deadline is the ability to write as you report. Not only is it helpful to write before, but it’s also useful to write during. By collecting information in a strategically structured way, it’s possible to build your story before it’s even completely written. This, however, requires special attention to detail during the editing phase, as you may have to catch more mistakes than usual.


The media world is full of gleaming stories written on a tight deadline, but the general public often doesn’t realize that. First and foremost, the best stories completely hide the struggles or panics going on behind the scenes of a story. The best stories present a polished finished product, tight to the point that a reader can’t tell the difference between a story that took a week to write and a story that took half a day.

Sometimes, the recent nature of the events portrayed might suggest a tight deadline. And in a 24 hour news cycle, that’s often the case. For example, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from certain countries and banning refugees from entering the United States, reporters have been searching for interesting human interest angles.

This story from Washington Post reporter Patricia Sullivan tells an intriguing tale about a D.C. area-church that was planning to host an Afghan refugee family, only to learn that their soon-to-be-guests had been held up in accordance with the executive order. The story is informative but also captivating. The reporter most likely wrote this story on a deadline, simply because the story had to get out while the executive order was still a relevant topic. However, the article makes no compromises to quality or storytelling. The pacing and narrative hold the reader’s attention, but still provide a lot of quote-based and fact-heavy information.

The 24/7 news cycle has, in some ways, changed our very definition of the deadline. Now, a deadline can simply be “as soon as possible.” Although news organizations generally prioritize accuracy over immediacy, there is a huge rush to get news out before a competitor, and simply to get it out as soon as it is available. In some cases, like the example below, an article is posted about an event before the event even ends, and is updated as it unfolds.


Written in part by Elon alumnus Michael Bodley, this San Fransisco Chronicle article chronicles a wild night of protests at The University of California at Berkeley in response
to a school-sponsored appearance by conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos. The story is long and informative, and was composed by compiling information immediately as it became available. One of the strongest elements of the article is the way it integrates pictures, video, and relevant links.

This final example meets a more traditional definition of deadline reporting. This article was featured on the front page of the New York Times national section on Wednesday, meaning that it was certainly published before a deadline. This story is, above all else, an excellent example of captivating narrative storytelling. Well it certainly includes facts, this story almost reads like a novel, incorporating people and intimate details of their lives to capture the reader’s attention. A creative story telling tool employed by this story is the use of compartmentalizing certain sections and storylines. By putting each under a different subhead, it allows the author, Kirk Johnson, to efficiently organize his content.